Make us your home page
Instagram

Monoprice takes on Amazon in trade of cheap electronics

Ajay Kumar is the CEO of online retailer Monoprice in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., which sells electronic accoutrements. “We’re just cutting off all the margins,” Kumar said.

MCT

Ajay Kumar is the CEO of online retailer Monoprice in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., which sells electronic accoutrements. “We’re just cutting off all the margins,” Kumar said.

A company in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., represents a nightmare for the retail electronics industry. Located there is the 173,000-square-foot distribution facility and headquarters of Monoprice, an online store which aims to thrive by selling the electronic esoterica that carry a hefty markup at brick-and-mortar retailers.

For instance, you can get an HDMI cord — the critical component everyone needs to connect modern TVs to a set-top box — for $3.61. A similar cord from Best Buy or RadioShack is about $20.

But it's online where Monoprice.com has made a name since 2002, largely by word of mouth among tech-savvy geeks.

Last year, Monoprice grew to $145 million in gross sales. Monoprice goes direct to Asia in search of factories that can make products that stand up against leading store brands. Its goal is to find categories where it can undercut major retail prices by 30 to 70 percent.

Think Amazon, but much smaller, and only selling its own products.

"We're just cutting off all the margins," said Monoprice CEO Ajay Kumar.

The company has received praise from tech sites CNET and Gizmodo in head-to-head tests that showed its cables performing on par with far more expensive brand names available at retail stores.

Monoprice sees its advantage in selling a limited set of options for a specific kind of product it has tested itself, rather than selling everything as does Amazon or a site like TigerDirect.com.

While Amazon offers its own brand of low-cost electronics accessories, called Amazon Basics, with prices in the same ballpark as Monoprice, the Seattle tech giant also sells higher-priced cables, such as $35 Monster-branded HDMI cables.

"Amazon is trying to sell more Monster cables than Amazon Basic cables," said Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria. "Other direct-to-China websites don't curate their products. They also don't have the same level of service."

Recently, Kumar has begun pushing his 270-person company into new categories, such as musical instruments and power-efficient LED lights. The company sells Monoprice-branded electric guitars for $91.07 and a flute for $106.03. A simple plastic iPhone or Android case — the kind available pretty much everywhere for between $10 and $50 — sells for less than $4.

Monoprice takes on Amazon in trade of cheap electronics 05/04/14 [Last modified: Sunday, May 4, 2014 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe has been taking precautions in light of the Seminole Heights killings: keeping the lights on all night and having employees walk to their cars in groups.
  3. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees

    Airlines

    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  4. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]